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NHAAAD 2014: Shifting Attention and Focus to HIV/AIDS and Aging

Aging is a part of life; HIV doesn’t have to be.

This is the theme for the 7th annual National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day (NHAAAD), which is observed yearly on September 18.

This awareness day was created to address two distinct truths:

  1. Many older Americans are not getting tested for HIV. Myths, stigma, and lack of targeted education make this population, especially diverse older adults, less aware of how to protect themselves from the virus. This is concerning because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that by next year, 50% of the people living with HIV in the United States will be 50 years or older.
  2. Medical breakthroughs have improved HIV treatment, allowing people living with HIV/AIDS who stick to regular and continuous care lead longer and healthier lives. While this is a positive outcome, we face a shortage of services and support mechanisms for older Americans living with HIV/AIDS. In addition, there isn’t enough research or data about the impact of HIV/AIDS on the normal aging process.

“If we look at the data, the numbers are very clear. There is a clear need to shift attention and focus to older Americans, who face many of the same HIV risk factors that younger age groups do, yet are more likely to receive a late diagnosis,” said Dr. Yanira Cruz, NHCOA President and CEO.

“This is particularly true among diverse seniors, who face many health disparities compared with their White non-Hispanic peers. That is why NHCOA became a proud partner of the CDC’s Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative to help reduce the rates of HIV in hard-to-reach and diverse communities. While NHCOA serves and represents the needs and interests of Hispanic older adults, we know they don’t live in a vacuum.”

“Through our work with AAALI we leverage the strong connections, leadership, and influence Latino seniors have within their families, communities, and places of worship and leisure by offering culturally and linguistically appropriate outreach and education focused on intergenerational storytelling and dialogue to break the silence and eliminate the stigma.”

What you can do on National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day

  • Get the Facts. Start a conversation at home, or with a loved one, on HIV/AIDS. You can get more information here.
  • Get Tested. If you are sexually active, ask your healthcare provider for an HIV test during annual check ups. [Under the ACA, most new health insurance plans must cover certain recommended preventive services, including HIV testing. Free HIV screening is also included in Medicare Part B.]
  • Advocate. Read the Diverse Elders Coalition’s Eight Policy Recommendations for Improving the Health and Wellness of Older Adults with HIV.
  • Join the Conversation. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtags #AIDSandAging and #NHAAAD to be part of the ongoing conversation. Here are some sample messages and memes to get you started.
  • Go Viral. Share this blog post and NHCOA videos like the one below with your contacts and raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and aging.

 

The Importance of Clinical Trials in Vaccine Development

A Conversation with a Vaccine Clinical Trial Participant

Augusto Paredes, BSN, RN Vaccine Trial Participant
Augusto Paredes, BSN, RN Vaccine Trial Participant

Almost since the discovery of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, scientists have been hard at work trying to find a vaccine to prevent HIV infection. After all, vaccines have proven to be a vital part of public health by preventing infectious diseases from smallpox to influenza and have saved hundreds of millions of lives since the 18th century (History of Vaccines, 2014). As we commemorate HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, the conversation must include thanking the more than 30,000 HIV vaccine trial participants worldwide (HIV Vaccine Trials Network, 2013). If researchers are to develop a globally effective HIV vaccine one day, their efforts will have to include a diverse group of study volunteers, advocates, and community advisors. NHCOA recently had the opportunity to sit down with Augusto Paredes, BSN, RN about his experiences as a vaccine trial participant.

Augusto is the Nurse Manager at the Georgetown Hospital Division of Infectious Diseases and Travel Medicine in Washington, DC and has worked in HIV prevention and education in the Latino community for years. He attributes his experiences in community outreach and advocacy to his motivation to participate in clinical trials at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD.

 

What made you decide to participate in a clinical trial?

I was mostly driven by my involvement in the HIV field. I’ve always wanted to do more for the medical field in general and participating in research seemed like a good way to do it. I was originally recruited by Marco Zurita [colleague and long-time community liaison for National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) through the PACT Program] for an HIV study looking at different tissues of HIV negative people to see why anal sex was riskier than oral sex [in terms of possible HIV infection]. The funds that [Marco] had allowed him to provide me transportation – he made things pretty easy, he took care of me as a volunteer. He made sure I was being taken care of everywhere from phlebotomy to getting me to the Clinical Center at NIH. All I had to do was call him and he made things happen. I ended up not participating in that study, but they kept my information and when a vaccine study came up, they contacted me and I went in to find out more.

 

What was process like for you becoming a research participant?

The first visit for the screening you meet with the nurse and they explain to you the risks, the benefits, they’re pretty thorough, spending 15-20 minutes explaining the study to you. I did some blood work, got instructions about what procedures would be done including EKG and HIV test. When I got a call back [about the HIV study], at first I thought it was a positive HIV result, but thankfully it was just an abnormal EKG. They asked if I wanted to have my blood used for a different study and I said yes, so they ended up paying me for that – compensation they call it over there [at NIH]. At the time I was going to college and I kind of needed the money (laugh). With the vaccine study, it was pretty much the same thing – I met with the nurse, they told me all about the study, and we did some blood work to see if I was eligible to participate. That one I did end up enrolling in and participating all the way through.

Recently, I got a letter about the article that they published with the data. I was very excited to see that update; I was contributing a little to medical research. Without medical research, we wouldn’t have cures for cancers or HIV medications or all these great things that are keeping people alive. Vaccines themselves are such a great tool for disease prevention and being part of such an important thing was just great; it felt good.

“Vaccines themselves are such a great tool for disease prevention and being part of such an important thing was just great; it felt good.”

 

What did your friends and family think of you participating in a clinical trial?

They were kind of afraid, especially when they heard I was going to be receiving an actual vaccine. They were like, “Why are you doing that??” I was fine; I never had any doubts like I wasn’t concerned about getting a disease from it. I never really thought too much about it, like I wasn’t thinking, ‘Oh my God, they’re putting an experimental product in my body.” The vaccine [in the study] had already been through many trials. The safety had already been proven; they were just [adjusting the dosage]. I knew that the vaccine had already been studied and it was safe to be injected into humans, so it was fine. I felt good about it.

 

What would you say to anyone concerned about a loved one participating in a clinical trial?

Honestly, I would tell them to take it easy. When people hear the term ‘research’ and they know you’re getting some kind of medication or [researchers] are injecting something into your body, they’ll ask, “Why are you doing that?!” and my response is, “Why are you asking questions without getting educated on the subject?” If someone is asking valid questions, I’ll absolutely answer them but if someone just [has a gut reaction of] “Don’t do this!” I’ll ask them how they can be against something they have so little information about.

I dismissed a lot of people’s concerns, but with my mother, she was more worried and I was more patient with her. She worried about her son getting an experimental product. I explained the whole study to her, what it was about, and reinforced to her over and over again that I wasn’t going to get sick. She trusts me and knows I wouldn’t get myself into something that would potentially hurt me.

 

What advice would you give someone considering volunteering for a research study but might be concerned about what family might say?

Well, first, definitely do it [participate]. I think education is the best tool anything really, not just this but anything. Know what kind of research you’re going into because there are lots of different kinds of trials and there are some studies where you’re getting medications that could potentially hurt you. For example, I have a patient [at Georgetown Hospital] that has been battling cancer for many years and he’s getting some experimental drugs because they’ve tried everything else and nothing is working. We don’t know whether he’s going to be okay or not. Usually healthy volunteer studies are not going to hurt [participants]. A lot of people are skeptical of the government and they don’t trust research institutions and things like that. I do and I think we need to put a little bit more trust in our medical professionals. I feel like in the Latino community especially there’s a lot of skepticism with the medical field in general and we just need to put a little bit more trust. I feel like that comes with education, and not just going online and googling everything but having discussions with not only physicians but also, especially in immigrant families in the United States, it also means having younger generations talk to older adults about what they’ve learned.

 

The views and opinions expressed on this blog post are soley those of the person interviewed. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the National Hispanic Council on Aging, its staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

3 Ways Grandparents Can Act Against AIDS on NYHAAD

The relationship between grandparents and grandchildren is extremely special, especially when the interaction goes beyond holiday visits and occasional calls. Grandparents often times form a closeness and bond with their grandchildren that is empowering and enriching. Their child-rearing experience often allows them to cultivate a relationship with their grandchildren that is steeped in wisdom and filled with mutual appreciation and respect. This is even more the case as an increasing number of American households have become multigenerational. This is particularly true for diverse communities, including Latinos: 22% of Hispanic households are multigenerational, compared to 13% of White households.

This grandparent-grandchild bond allows older adults to address a variety of issues that might be touchy, embarrassing, and even scary for grandchildren to discuss with their parents, including HIV/AIDS. National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NYHAAD) is a good opportunity for grandparents to raise HIV awareness, as well as encourage their grandchildren to act against AIDS. Here are three things grandparents can do to empower their grandchildren to raise awareness and get involved in the fight against AIDS on NYHAAD and every day of the year:

1. Schedule a joint annual check-up that includes an HIV test. 

Preventive health care is important at any age. Grandparents can schedule their annual check-ups with their grandchildren, and ensure they both get tested for HIV. (The CDC estimates that by 2015, 50% of people living with HIV/AIDS will be 50 years of age or older.)

 

2. Have an open discussion on HIV/AIDS.

Myths, stigma, and misinformation encourage the spread of HIV. Grandparents should sit down with their grandchildren and have an open discussion about what HIV/AIDS is, how the virus is transmitted, and how to reduce risk of infection. Reliable sources of information include:

www.aids.gov

http://www.cdc.gov/actagainstaids/

http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/

http://www.aidsinfo.nih.gov/hiv-aids-health-topics

http://hivtest.cdc.gov

 

3. Encourage grandchildren to talk HIV with their peers.

Grandparents should empower their grandchildren to dispel myths, eliminate stigma, and set the record straight on HIV/AIDS with their peers by leveraging personal and social networks. The more we raise awareness and shed light on HIV/AIDS, the closer we get toward the goal of achieving an “AIDS-free generation”— a future time in which no person, regardless of age, race, or gender, contracts HIV.

 

NHCOA is a proud Hispanic/Latino partner of the CDC’s Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative (AAALI), an effort to reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS among diverse communities.

Join Alicia Keys for the “We Are Empowered” Watch Party

The National  Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA) and the Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative invite you to join Alicia Keys for a “We Are Empowered” National Watch Party and Discussion about women and HIV/AIDS on Sunday, January 19 from 8-9 p.m. EST. “We Are Empowered” is an intimate and revealing half hour conversation Alicia had with five women living with HIV in the U.S. that will inspire and inform.

We encourage you to get involved in this important conversation by hosting a watch party. Gather your friends and family to watch the “We Are Empowered” video on the Greater Than AIDS website or VH1.com. As you watch, use the discussion guide to foster conversation among your group and share your thoughts with Alicia on Twitter at #WeAreEmpowered.

Whether HIV positive or negative, we all have a role to play in the fight against AIDS. For additional information about the “We Are Empowered” watch party, please visit the Greater Than AIDS site at greaterthan.org/empowered.

Since 2011 NHCOA has been one of three national Hispanic/Latino partners of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative, a multi-year national communication initiative to reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS among diverse communities. NHCOA uses community outreach and communication efforts to reach and inform Latino senior, their families, and caregivers about HIV/AIDS, as well encourage them to talk HIV in their communities and with loved ones.

What is the Difference Between HIV and AIDS?

The National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA) is proud to be one of three Latino organizations in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative (AAALI). AAALI is a multi-year national communication initiative to reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS among diverse communities. NHCOA uses community outreach and communication efforts to reach and inform Latino senior, their families, and caregivers about HIV/AIDS, as well encourage them to talk HIV in their communities and with loved ones.

In our conversations and efforts about this issue, HIV and AIDS are often referenced together and by their abbreviations. However, HIV and AIDS are not the same. So, what exactly is the difference?

According to the CDC, Human Immunodeficiency Virus, commonly known as HIV, is a virus that infects humans and weakens the immune system by destroying important cells that fight disease and infection. HIV differs from other viruses because over time the immune system can fight and clear most viruses. However, this isn’t the case with HIV yet. Scientists are still trying to figure out why the human immune system can’t clear HIV once infected.

Over time, HIV can destroy so many of your T-cells – the cells that fight infections and diseases, which are cells that the body requires to fight infections and disease. As a result, HIV can lead to AIDS

Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, commonly known as AIDS, is the final stage of HIV infection. At this stage, the immune systems – which includes all the organs and cells that fight disease – is deficient, or no longer working properly.  Rather than a disease, AIDS is classified as a syndrome, which is a collection of symptoms and signs of disease, because it is a complex illness with a wide range of complications and symptoms.

In order to be diagnosed with AIDS, one must have one or more specific opportunistic infections, certain cancers or a very low number of T-cells. Individuals with AIDS must have medical treatment to prevent death.

NHCOA Encourages Everyone to Share Responsibility for an AIDS-Free Generation on World AIDS Day

world_logo1Each year World AIDS Day (WAD) is observed on December 1st and provides an opportunity for people around the world to unite in the fight against HIV/AIDS, show their support for people living with HIV/AIDS and commemorate people who have died. WAD was first observed in 1988, making it the first ever international health day. The National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA) encourages everyone to use WAD as a platform to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS in your community and around the world. You can use the materials in NHCOA’s 2013 WAD toolkit to help in your outreach efforts.

More than 25 million people have died of AIDS worldwide since the first case of HIV was observed over 30 years ago in the U.S. What was once considered to be a death sentence is now classified as a manageable chronic disease. While unprecedented advances in medical treatment have been made, there is still much work to be done in the quest to make an AIDS-free generation a reality. Today 33.4 million people are living with HIV/AIDS worldwide.

Domestically, over 1 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV. Hispanics continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Hispanics account for approximately 17 percent of the U.S. population, but comprised 21 perfect of new HIV infections in 2010. As such, the rate of new HIV infections for Hispanics is three times the rate for non-Hispanic whites.

However, HIV/AIDS doesn’t just affect the health of individuals living with it; it impacts families, friends and communities, as well as the development and economic growth of nations. Many of the countries hardest hit by HIV also suffer from other infection diseases, food insecurity and other serious issues.

Although WAD provides a great opportunity to for public discourse about HIV/AIDS, it’s important to continue these efforts throughout the year. This is why NHCOA joined the fight against HIV/AIDS in 2011, becoming one of three national Hispanic/Latino partners of the CDC’s Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative (AAALI), a multi-year national communication initiative to reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS among diverse communities. NHCOA uses community outreach and communication efforts to reach and inform Latino senior, their families, and caregivers about HIV/AIDS, as well encourage them to talk HIV in their communities and with loved ones.

Stories of Older Adults with HIV/AIDS

large_aids_day_GenLogo_RGB300HIV can infect anyone, at any age, if given the chance. However, it does disproportionately impact certain populations. HIV/AIDS is a serious health concern for older adults; today adults 50 years of age and older account for 32.7% of HIV diagnoses in the U.S. Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that this number will increase to 50% by 2015. The numbers don’t lie: HIV can, and often disproportionately, affects older adults, parents and grandparents.

Contrary to popular myths and stereotypes, some seniors engage in behaviors that put them at risk for HIV, including unprotected sex, sex with more than one partner and substance abuse (including injecting drugs). However, many older adults either don’t know they are at risk of infection or have HIV and don’t know it – HIV can remain silent for many years, and they are not aware of their status thus not receiving treatment and potentially infecting others.. Traditionally older adults have rarely been targeted in HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness campaigns. Subsequently, many do not realize that their behaviors can put them at risk for HIV infection.

In order to address this disconnect, the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA) joined the Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative (AAALI) – a partnership between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and leading national organizations representing the populations hardest hit by HIV. NHCOA, Farmworker Justice and ASPIRA are the only AAALI partners that are dedicated to serving the Hispanic population. As AAALI partners, each organization promotes HIV/AIDS awareness in the communities they serve through three main messages: get the facts, get tested, and get involved.

Each year on September 18th organizations and community leaders across the country come together to raise awareness of the impact of HIV/AIDS on older adults by recognizing National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day (NHAAAD). NHAAAD is a powerful opportunity to highlight the complex issues related to HIV prevention, care and treatment for aging populations in the U.S. It’s important that we talk with the older adults in our lives about HIV/AIDS today and throughout the year in order to help them get the facts, make safe choices and get treatment after a positive diagnosis.

As with any other population, older adults are a diverse group from many walks of life and sexual orientations. Whether they work in the fields or in an office, are self-employed or retired, all older adults need to be informed about HIV/AIDS.  Below are stories that show the risks and decisions that some older adults face on a daily basis that lead to HIV/AIDS. While these stories are fictional, they are based on true experiences. NHCOA sends a special thanks to Farmerworker Jusice for contributing “Jorge’s” story.

Jorge
Jorge left Mexico when he was 25 years old to find work in the United States.  He left behind a wife and two young boys, but felt like he had little choice.  There was no work in the town where he lived and although he had found some work in the city nearby, it wasn’t enough to support his family.  He’d been here for almost forty years, working the fields.  Both his sons eventually joined him to do farm work and brought their wives from Mexico.  His wife stayed behind though, looking after their house and her parents and other relatives.  Jorge would have returned to Mexico before now, but the farm still gave him work and his children took care of him.

He’d been doing farm work for as long as he could remember.  The work was repetitive and demanding and the days were long and the years longer.  His body was bent and he moved slower than he used to.  On top of his normal aches and pains, he’d recently been feeling sick, with unexplained exhaustion, nausea, and some vomiting.  His son kept telling him to go to the doctor but the health center was far away, so he kept putting it off.

It was a Sunday afternoon, after church, that he first found out he was HIV-positive.  The church was putting on a health fair and they were offering a variety of screenings: cholesterol, vision, hearing, COPD, kidneys, and HIV.  He wasn’t planning on getting an HIV test that day; he had no reason to believe he was positive.  However, the woman at the booth convinced him to get it done.  When he returned 20 minutes later for the results, he was shocked when she said it was positive.

He didn’t say anything to anyone.  He was in his 60’s, too old to be diagnosed with HIV, in his opinion.  He’d always thought that HIV was for younger people in the 20’s and 30’s, not abuelos like himself.  When he finally went to the health department for the confirmation test, it was weeks later.  The health center worker who initially tested him had contacted him and offered to go with him to the health department.  When his results came back, they said he’d probably had HIV for years.  He would most likely need to start medication soon, but it would be a little more difficult to treat his HIV because he had waited so long to be tested.

When the health care worker asked him what he planned to do, now that he knew he was HIV-positive, he said he was going to go home.  And by home, he meant Mexico.  He was too ashamed to tell his sons about his diagnosis and he was just never comfortable seeing doctors in this country.  Although he’d spent more than half his life in the US, Mexico was still his home and where he wanted to finish out his life.  The doctor told him that with medications he could live a relatively normal and healthy life; however, he wasn’t sure what he was going to do when he got back to Mexico.  He didn’t want his wife to know he was HIV-positive and he knew that if he sought treatment in Mexico, people in his town could find out.   All he knew was that this was not what he had expected to deal with at his age.

Josefina
Josefina was born and raised in El Salvador, but has lived in the United States since she was 18 years old. She followed her high school sweetheart here in search of better opportunities after he asked her to marry him. It was a big adjustment to move to another country without knowing the language or the culture, but they were able to support each other and build a beautiful life together.

Josefina and her husband, Manuel, opened a restaurant, specializing in their families’ authentic Salvadorian recipes. The restaurant required long hours, but they enjoyed it and the support it provided for their family. Over the years they raised three children together, and later in life watched as their family expanded with the addition of spouses and grandchildren.

But one day, Josefina’s American dream came to an end when Manuel suffered a heart attack and did not survive. She did not think she would be able to cope with the grief of losing her husband of more than 40 years, but was able to heal thanks to the support of her family.

In the years since the loss of her husband, Josefina kept busy by working at the restaurant, taking care of her grandchildren and meeting friends for the occasional cup of coffee. While she was surrounded by people who loved her, she still felt lonely sometimes. When she mentioned this to Rogelia, her close friend, over coffee one day, her friend exclaimed, “Of course you feel lonely! It’s been nearly five years since Manuel passed away, and you haven’t dated anyone!” At first Josefina recoiled at the idea of dating someone. How could she date anyone after losing the love of her life? What would her kids think? What would people think of her having a boyfriend in her 60’s? However, Rogelia reassured her that Manuel would want her to be happy. She suggested that Josefina come to salsa night at the local senior center to meet some new people. Reluctantly, Josefina agreed.

Later that week, the women attended salsa night, where Josefina met a handsome widower named Juan Ignacio. She was surprised by how much fun they had dancing and talking that night– she hadn’t felt so lighthearted in years. So at the end of the night when he asked to take her out to dinner the following week she didn’t even think twice before accepting his invitation to dinner.

Soon after they first met, Josefina and Juan Ignacio started dating. While their relationship was short-lived, it made her happy while it lasted. A few months after their relationship ended she went to the doctor for an annual checkup. During the physical her doctor conducted routine tests, including an HIV test, which came back positive.

She was shocked and devastated by the diagnosis. Other than her husband, Juan Ignacio was the only man she’d ever been with – how could this be possible? Her doctor asked if they had used protection, which surprised her. She could no longer get pregnant, so she hadn’t thought to use protection. The doctor gently explained more about HIV/AIDS and who it affects. Josefina was surprised to learn that she was not alone – many older adults were living with HIV, and now she was one of them.

Carmen and Luis
Carmen is a Cuban-American who grew up in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami. As a teenager she met Luis and got married right after she graduated high school. Family was very important to them both, so they decided to buy their first home in Little Havana in order to be close to both of their families. Luis was a construction manager and Carmen kept busy as a stay-at-home mom to their seven children. They had a humble life together, but were happy.

After nearly 50 years of marriage, Luis became very sick and had to be hospitalized. While running tests to determine his ailment, the doctors discovered that he had AIDS. The couple was shocked. Carmen had heard of AIDS, but never thought that it was a disease that would affect their family. Shortly after Luis was diagnosed, he passed away. Upon the suggestion of the doctors, Carmen got tested for HIV and the results came back positive.

She was devastated by the loss of her husband, and the news of her diagnosis only compounded that feeling. She thought that she would meet the same end as her husband. However, the doctor explained to her and her family the difference between HIV and AIDS. He told her that due to the incredible advancements in medical treatment over the years, people living with HIV can live fulfilling and relatively normal lives. He assured her that by taking her medications as prescribed, she could manage her HIV like any other chronic disease. With the love and support of her family, Carmen began treatment immediately following her diagnosis.

It’s been ten years since Luis passed away and Carmen is thriving because she has followed the treatment guidelines that her doctor recommended. She is HIV-positive, but she is still AIDS-free.

STD Awareness Month: Infórmese. Hágase la prueba. Involúcrese.

April is STD Awareness Month, which is the perfect time to have open and honest discussions about the alarmingly high STD infection rate in the U.S.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are an estimated 20 million new STD cases each year, which result in $16 billion in treatment costs.

Among the long list of sexually transmitted diseases is HIV, which is the virus that causes AIDS.  What was once considered a disease that only affected a small subgroup of the population has become an epidemic in the Hispanic community in recent years.  In 2009, Latinos represented about 16 percent of the U.S. population, but accounted for 20 percent of the new HIV infections.  Additionally, the rate of new infections among Latinos is two and a half times as high as that of white men and the rate for Latinas is more than four times that of white women.

While the conversations surrounding HIV/AIDS have become more open in recent years, older Americans are still mostly overlooked. However, the past three decades have taught us that HIV/AIDS does not discriminate in who it infects.  In 2009, people ages 50 and older represented 23% of AIDS diagnoses in the U.S. In the Latino community, the rates of HIV/AIDS among people ages 50 and over were five times higher among Hispanics compared to non-Hispanic whites.

In an effort to spread awareness of HIV/AIDS and its impact, NHCOA joined the CDC and several other national organizations in the Act Against AIDS partnership. NHCOA focuses on HIV/AIDS education and prevention efforts for Hispanic older adults, their families, and caregivers. By providing linguistically, culturally, and age-appropriate education materials, NHCOA’s goal is to empower Hispanic older adults to spread the HIV prevention message to families and youth by capitalizing on the high level of respect and regard they have within the community.

Overall, the facts speak volumes and confirm that HIV/AIDS cannot be ignored, especially within the Hispanic community. NHCOA urges you and your loved ones to use STD Awareness Month to find out your status.  There are HIV and STD testing centers across the country that can deliver fast and secure results.  So this month: infórmese. Hágase la prueba. Involúcrese.